It may come as a surprise to many readers that Christianity teaches that we are fundamentally good. Most people think that Christianity only teaches that we are basically evil creatures and only Jesus can save us from our evil ways. But there is a strain of Christianity, present through the whole history of Christianity, that recognizes that human beings are made in the likeness and image of God as the Bible says. Nowhere does the Bible say we lost that image of God within. Nowhere.
Yes, we all have strayed from this fundamental goodness, which is God in us. Nonetheless that does not change the basic truth that the core of our being is good, aye, even more than good. It is exquisitely wondrous, loving and loved.
Yet many of us do not experience ourselves as wondrous, loving and loved. As bisexual, transgender, lesbian and gay people we all too often are cut off from this knowledge of our true self through the pervasive fear and loathing of homosexuals in our society, our families, our churches, even our own fear of loathing of our sexuality.
How do we get beyond this fear? How do we discovery our glory, our true nature?
At this point one might expect a 3-point, 10-point or maybe 12-point program for finding our True Selves. I will confession it is highly tempting for me to give you one. However, that would be disingenuous. I certainly haven’t followed any x number of steps to find my inner glory. For me, it’s been an ongoing process that continues to this day with any number of starts and stops along the way. Looking back over this process though, I can identify some principles that have helped others and myself to know God in us.
The first principle is God wants us to know and experience God’s own self within, united with all that is. It is God who initiates this longing in ourselves to know God, to understand who we are, why we were created. This is a longing I have experienced from my earliest memories.
Another principle is the need to surrender to this call of God in our hearts, to surrender to Love. I can name date, time and place where I initially made this surrender, this dedication to God. I can also assure you I was not made a saint at that instant. I had made the initial opening to God, but there was and still is a whole lot more opening to go.
I also know from reading and listening to others, some come into this experience gradually. This opening to God may have been a part of their life from childhood, growing deeper and more central as the years go by. Or as adults they come into this surrender over an extended period of reflection, study and prayer.
Reflection, study, prayer – that sounds like a lot of work! Well, relationships require inputs of energy, thought and time. Ultimately this is what this discovery process is about.
At the human level, we come to know who we are as human beings through our relationship with other human beings. If we are male, we come to know what is means to be a man through other men. If we are women, we come to know what is means to be a woman through other women. If we are transgender, we come to know what it means to be transgender through other transgender people. The gay community teaches us gay folk what it means to be gay.
If our essential nature is rooted and grounded in God, then we need to get to know God to know ourselves. That requires reflection, study, prayer and the company of others to support you in this quest.
The Good News is God is ready, willing and eager to help you with this task. Just ask. And keep asking. I have asked God many times over the years for help in this and God has always come through. Often, not right at the time of asking, but always over time.
This knowing our true selves, our glory, our union with God, takes place over time and extends into eternity. It takes time but very stage, very moment of that time is worthwhile. I know more of my inner glory now then I did 25 years ago but what I knew back then carried me through a very dark time. Every minute of this process is precious. Every moment is held tenderly in God’s hands, treasured in God’s heart. Thus it will be so in our own hearts.
Registered nurse, Episcopal priest and lifelong Idahoan Rev. Deborah Graham helped found Integrity Idaho and served in the Diocese of Idaho as a supply priest, hospice chaplain and missioner to the Hispanic community. She earned a master of divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific.